Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan weighed in Monday on a dispute roiling Michigan State University’s Board of Trustees, in which some members are calling for the resignation of board chair Rema Vassar for creating a “fractured and contentious” climate by allegedly meddling in a number of recent campus controversies, The Detroit Free Press reported.
A letter from trustee Brianna Scott to her colleagues, first reported by the student-run State News, accuses Vassar of “a pattern of violating our codes of conduct, ethics, and conflict of interest, including engaging in repeated undue influence, and bullying of Board members and administrators.”
It details 10 examples of Vassar’s alleged misconduct, including traveling for university business on a donor’s private jet, overstepping her role in the aftermath of the deadly Feb. 13 mass shooting on campus and attempting to negotiate, without permission or authority, a settlement with former business school dean Sanjay Gupta, who stepped down last year over his alleged failure to report incidents of sexual misconduct on his watch.
In a statement released Monday, Whitmer called the allegations against Vassar “deeply concerning.”
“If accurate, it would be a huge breach of the public’s trust,” she wrote. “This university has been rocked by scandal after scandal with no clear unified leadership or direction and tragically no accountability either. Right now, there are too many questions and not enough answers. The university owes it to students, alumni, and our entire state to get to the bottom of this and take appropriate action.”
If Vassar doesn’t resign, Scott has asked Whitmer to remove the board chair by force; according to Michigan state law, the governor does have the power to remove an elected member of a public board “for gross neglect of duty or for corrupt conduct in office, or any other misfeasance or malfeasance therein.”